July 03, 2024

The Cabbage Despatch: With Emily Campbell

Alicia Waite/Barlow
Photographer: Alicia Waite/Barlow
Emily Campbell is the owner and creative director of the deeply romantic nightwear brand, If Only If
Founded by her mother, Issy Falkner, in 2014, it bears all the hallmarks of our all-time favourite female-led businesses, from its onus on being family-run to its small-batch production, its size inclusivity, its timelessness and the dreamy, billowing silhouettes with which it has been synonymous since it first wafted onto the sartorial landscape.
So resonant, in fact, is If Only If’s mother-daughter story with our own that we are delighted to have collaborated with Emily on two new dresses for SS24 that unite If Only If’s best-selling nightdresses with our signature floral prints. 
Here, Emily shares a few of her very favourite things.  
What do you love most about your job? 
I love that no two days are the same and that it has allowed me to have flexibility around my children. 
Can you describe a perfect day? 
A perfect day would be a lie in with all the Sunday papers, a croissant and a cappuccino followed by something really simple like a walk in the park, where all my children got on swimmingly. I’d finish it off with dinner in the garden surrounded by people I love.
What are the most cherished items you own and why? 
I have three portraits of each of my children by one my best friends, Hui Hue. I adore them as they have been done by someone I love of people I love.
What’s your favourite failsafe dish? 
Anything that goes all in one pot in the oven, so a salmon traybake with soy, spring onions, tomatoes and chilli or a chicken traybake with loads of veg and lots of spices. Something that I can throw in and then can get back to my book or a really good TV show.
Dog walks, country pubs or gallery hopping: how do you spend your Sundays? 
Ideally all three, but I don’t have a dog, so children walks. I love a good pub. My favourite is The Ferry Boat in Cornwall, but similarly gallery musings make me feel completely calm. One of my first jobs was as a gallery girl, at the Houldsworth Gallery and I studied Art History at university. It inspires a lot of what I do with the business now.
Where do you go for inspiration? 
It probably would be an artist to be honest. Either an artist or a book. I take a lot of inspiration from Renaissance artists and sculptors, because of the way they created drapery around the female body. Again, children’s books are an endless source of inspiration, especially for children’s designs. I’m always pulling out Brambly Hedge and Shirley Hughes books from my children’s bookshelves.
What was the last book you loved and why? 
I loved Peggy Guggenheim’s autobiography. It is WILD! She was a true pioneer but mad as a box of frogs and so were apparently all the people around her. A period of absolute decadence. 
What’s your favourite hotel and why? 
I think my favourite hotel is The Garden Hotel in Ravello, Italy. It is not smart, but it has one of the most beautiful views of Amalfi and I think anywhere that takes you away from Positano and Capri, the better. We eat plates of freshly caught prawns with our fingers while feeling like we are on the edge of the earth – its views are breathtaking. 
Favourite restaurant?
River Café. Every time
Your favourite artist, living or dead, and why? 
Artemisia Gentileschi, just because she was a heroine amongst heroes.
Name a song that is significant to you and why? 
I am hugely nostalgic so it has to be Edith Piaf’s Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien because it was the song that we used to listen to as children when we would stay at my uncle’s house in southern France. I was really little, and my mum and I would sing into wooden spoons, dancing around in our nighties. We still like to do this to be honest. 
Who would play you in a film?  
Monica Bellucci – a girl can dream, can she not?!
Who has had the biggest impact on your career?
My mum! She was the one who set up the business over ten years ago. She is an eternal optimist and no challenge is too big. I also have her to thank for my inherited love of nighties. 
Which delights you more: garden pottering or kitchen pottering?
As someone who lives in London, garden pottering is more ‘can she swing a cat’, but kitchen pottering is one of my all-time favourite things. I will just put my Roberts Radio on and just tinker and fidget and move around to my heart’s content. Drives my husband mad. 
If you had to choose, are you happier in city or country – and why? 
I think ultimately, it’s country. I am actually quite an introvert and the country, with its views and its gentle quietness, really sings to my soul.
Early riser or night owl? 
1000% an early riser – ask any one of my friends. I am almost obscenely boring at night.
How would you describe your style? 
I dress like an overgrown three-year-old: Peter Pan collars, shift dresses. I mean, I hold the long socks but I guess I’m a bit like a colourful Wednesday Addams.
Your favourite item of clothing? 
I have a suede jacket that belonged to my mum when she used to be a DJ in her twenties. It reminds me of my childhood – I remember her wearing it and the smell. It proves the emotional connection we have to clothes and the importance of them for that reason.
What job would you do in a parallel life?  
I was a primary school teacher for six years and I adored it. Didn’t love the report writing, so I would probably say a teacher’s assistant. You get all the joy of the children and the cuddles and then you get to leave as soon as the day is over!
What pieces from the Cabbages & Roses SS24 have you got your eye on? 
Well obviously, I have my eyes – and hands – firmly on our full collaboration. It has been a joy to come together and work on these pieces with Violet and Kate and I am so proud of what we have created. I hope they will be pieces that women love, wear to death and maybe even hand down to the next generation one day.